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Mastering AP Psychology Essays: A Step-by-Step Guide


- A sample response that scored high on the rubric, with annotations explaining why it was effective. - A sample response that scored low on the rubric, with annotations explaining why it was ineffective. - A summary of the main points and tips for writing a good essay on memory. H2: Social Psychology - The essay prompt and the rubric used to grade it. - A sample response that scored high on the rubric, with annotations explaining why it was effective. - A sample response that scored low on the rubric, with annotations explaining why it was ineffective. - A summary of the main points and tips for writing a good essay on social psychology. H2: Abnormal Psychology - The essay prompt and the rubric used to grade it. - A sample response that scored high on the rubric, with annotations explaining why it was effective. - A sample response that scored low on the rubric, with annotations explaining why it was ineffective. - A summary of the main points and tips for writing a good essay on abnormal psychology. H1: Conclusion and FAQs Conclusion: Summarize the main points of the article, restate the thesis statement, and provide some suggestions for further practice and improvement. H2: FAQs Provide five unique FAQs related to AP Psychology essays, such as: - How long should an AP Psychology essay be? - How many sources should I cite in an AP Psychology essay? - How can I manage my time when writing an AP Psychology essay? - How can I prepare for the AP Psychology exam? - Where can I find more AP Psychology essay examples? Table 2: Article with HTML formatting ```html How to Write a Successful AP Psychology Essay




If you are taking AP Psychology, you might be wondering how to write a good essay for the course and the exam. AP Psychology is a college-level course that introduces students to the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes. The exam consists of two sections: multiple-choice questions and free-response questions. The free-response section requires students to write two essays in 50 minutes, each worth 16.7% of their total score.




ap psychology essay examples



Writing essays is an essential skill for AP Psychology students because it allows them to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts, theories, research methods, and applications in psychology. It also helps them develop their critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills.


In this article, we will guide you through the process of writing a successful AP Psychology essay by explaining the types of essay questions you might encounter, how they are graded using rubrics, and what common mistakes you should avoid. We will also provide you with three examples of AP Psychology essays from past exams, one for each of the following topics: memory, social psychology, and abnormal psychology. For each example, we will show you a sample response that scored high on the rubric, a sample response that scored low on the rubric, and a summary of the main points and tips for writing a good essay on that topic. Finally, we will conclude with some FAQs and suggestions for further practice and improvement.


Types of Essay Questions




There are two types of essay questions that you might encounter in the AP Psychology exam: free-response questions and essay prompts. Free-response questions are open-ended questions that require you to write a short essay in response to a specific scenario or question. They usually ask you to apply your knowledge of psychology to a real-world situation, explain how psychological concepts or phenomena work, or compare and contrast different perspectives or theories. For example, here is a free-response question from the 2019 exam:


Zoey wants to buy a new car but is having trouble deciding what kind of car to buy. She has narrowed her choices down to two models: one that is more expensive but has better gas mileage and safety ratings, and one that is cheaper but has worse gas mileage and safety ratings. She also likes the color and style of the cheaper car more than the more expensive car. Zoey has asked for advice from her family and friends. Explain how each of the following could influence her decision. Be sure to discuss each concept in the context of Zoeys decision.


  • Approach-avoidance conflict



  • Central route to persuasion



  • Heuristics



  • Individualism



  • Rationalization



  • Self-efficacy



  • The autonomic nervous system



  • The foot-in-the-door phenomenon



Essay prompts are questions that require you to write a longer essay in response to a general topic or theme. They usually ask you to synthesize information from different sources, such as readings, lectures, or experiments, and analyze how they relate to the topic or theme. For example, here is an essay prompt from the 2018 exam:


Researchers conducted a study to investigate the effect of humor on memory. Participants listened to either a humorous or a nonhumorous story while viewing 12 slides of neutral facial expressions. After listening to the story, participants were asked to recall as many slides as they could in any order. The researchers found that participants who listened to the humorous story recalled significantly more slides than those who listened to the nonhumorous story.


Using your knowledge of research methods and statistics, write an essay in which you do the following:


  • Identify one extraneous variable that could have affected the results of this study and explain how it could have influenced the results.



  • Identify one way that the researchers could have controlled for this extraneous variable.



  • Identify one ethical issue that might arise in this study and explain how it could be addressed.



  • Identify one way that the researchers could have improved the validity of this study.



  • Identify one way that the researchers could have improved the reliability of this study.



Rubrics and Scoring




AP Psychology essays are graded using rubrics, which are scoring guides that specify what criteria are used to evaluate them. Rubrics vary depending on the type and topic of the essay question, but they generally consist of a set of points that correspond to different aspects or components of the answer. For example, here is the rubric for the free-response question about Zoey's decision:


Point Description --- --- 1 The student identifies approach-avoidance conflict as a situation in which there is one goal with both positive and negative aspects. 2 The student explains how approach-avoidance conflict could influence Zoey's decision by making her feel ambivalent or conflicted about choosing either car. 3 The student identifies central route to persuasion as a process in which a person is persuaded by the content or logic of a message. 4 The student explains how central route to persuasion could influence Zoey's decision by making her more likely to choose the car that has better gas mileage and safety ratings if she pays attention to those features and considers them important. 5 The student identifies heuristics as mental shortcuts or rules of thumb that simplify decision making. Point Description --- --- 7 The student identifies individualism as a cultural value that emphasizes personal goals and preferences over group goals and norms. 8 The student explains how individualism could influence Zoey's decision by making her more likely to choose the car that matches her own taste and style rather than the expectations of others. 9 The student identifies rationalization as a defense mechanism that involves creating logical explanations or excuses for one's behavior or choices. 10 The student explains how rationalization could influence Zoey's decision by making her justify or minimize the drawbacks of the car she chooses or the benefits of the car she rejects. 11 The student identifies self-efficacy as a belief in one's ability to perform a task or achieve a goal. 12 The student explains how self-efficacy could influence Zoey's decision by making her more confident or doubtful about her ability to afford, maintain, or drive the car she chooses. 13 The student identifies the autonomic nervous system as a part of the nervous system that regulates involuntary bodily functions and responses to stress. 14 The student explains how the autonomic nervous system could influence Zoey's decision by making her experience physiological arousal or anxiety when faced with a difficult choice. 15 The student identifies the foot-in-the-door phenomenon as a compliance technique that involves getting someone to agree to a small request before asking for a larger one. 16 The student explains how the foot-in-the-door phenomenon could influence Zoey's decision by making her more likely to buy the car if she has already agreed to some minor requests from the salesperson, such as taking a test drive or filling out a survey. ```html Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them




Writing AP Psychology essays can be challenging, especially under time pressure and without access to external resources. However, there are some common mistakes that students make when writing AP Psychology essays, and they can be avoided with some practice and attention. Here are some of the most frequent errors and how to avoid them:


  • Misunderstanding the question. Sometimes students fail to answer the question correctly because they misinterpret what it is asking or what terms it is using. For example, some students might confuse operant conditioning with classical conditioning, or correlation with causation. To avoid this mistake, make sure you read the question carefully and identify the key words and concepts. If you are not sure what a term means, try to define it in your own words or give an example of it.



  • Using vague or incorrect terminology. Sometimes students use vague or general terms instead of specific or accurate ones when writing their essays. For example, some students might use "brain" instead of "amygdala" or "emotion" instead of "fear". To avoid this mistake, make sure you use precise and appropriate terminology that matches the level of detail and specificity required by the question. If you are not sure what term to use, try to explain what you mean using other words or examples.



  • Providing irrelevant or inaccurate information. Sometimes students provide information that is not related to the question or that is incorrect or outdated. For example, some students might include personal opinions or anecdotes that are not supported by evidence or theory, or cite studies that have been debunked or revised. To avoid this mistake, make sure you provide information that is relevant and accurate according to the current state of knowledge in psychology. If you are not sure if something is relevant or accurate, try to find a source that confirms or refutes it.



To check your work and avoid these mistakes, you can use the following strategies:


  • Reread the question and your answer. After you finish writing your essay, reread the question and your answer and make sure they match. Ask yourself if you have answered all parts of the question, if you have used appropriate terminology and examples, and if you have provided relevant and accurate information.



  • Use the rubric as a guide. Before you submit your essay, review the rubric that will be used to grade it and see if your answer meets the criteria. Ask yourself if you have earned all the points possible, if you have explained your reasoning clearly and logically, and if you have avoided any errors or omissions.



  • Get feedback from others. If possible, ask a peer, a teacher, or a tutor to read your essay and give you feedback. Ask them to point out any strengths and weaknesses in your answer, any errors or gaps in your information, and any suggestions for improvement.



AP Psychology Essay Examples




Now that you know how to write a successful AP Psychology essay, let's look at some examples of actual essays from past exams. We will provide you with three examples, one for each of the following topics: memory, social psychology, and abnormal psychology. For each example, we will show you the essay prompt and the rubric used to grade it, a sample response that scored high on the rubric, a sample response that scored low on the rubric, and a summary of the main points and tips for writing a good essay on that topic.


Memory




The following is an example of a free-response question about memory from the 2017 exam:


Researchers conducted an experiment to test the effect of music on memory. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Group 1 listened to classical music while studying a list of words; Group 2 listened to rock music while studying the same list of words; Group 3 studied the list of words in silence. After studying the list for 10 minutes, participants were asked to recall as many words as they could in any order.


Using your knowledge of memory and cognition, answer the following questions:


  • Identify and explain one type of encoding that was used by participants in this experiment.



  • Identify and explain one type of retrieval that was used by participants in this experiment.



  • Identify and explain one factor that could have enhanced the memory performance of participants in Group 1.



  • Identify and explain one factor that could have impaired the memory performance of participants in Group 2.



  • Identify and explain one way that participants in Group 3 could have improved their memory performance using a mnemonic device.



The following is the rubric for this question:


Point Description --- --- 1 The student identifies encoding as the process of transforming information into a form that can be stored in memory. 2 The student explains one type of encoding that was used by participants in this experiment, such as acoustic encoding (encoding based on sound), semantic encoding (encoding based on meaning), or visual encoding (encoding based on images). 3 The student identifies retrieval as the process of accessing information from memory. 4 The student explains one type of retrieval that was used by participants in this experiment, such as recall (retrieving information without cues), recognition (retrieving information with cues), or cued recall (retrieving information with partial cues). 5 The student identifies and explains one factor that could have enhanced the memory performance of participants in Group 1, such as the Mozart effect (the idea that listening to classical music improves spatial reasoning), state-dependent memory (the idea that memory is better when the encoding and retrieval states match), or arousal theory (the idea that moderate levels of arousal enhance memory). 6 The student identifies and explains one factor that could have impaired the memory performance of participants in Group 2, such as interference theory (the idea that similar or competing information impairs memory), divided attention (the idea that multitasking reduces memory performance), or retroactive interference (the idea that new information interferes with old information). 7 The student identifies and explains one way that participants in Group 3 could have improved their memory performance using a mnemonic device, such as chunking (grouping information into meaningful units), acronyms (using the first letters of words to form a word or phrase), or imagery (creating mental pictures to associate with information). The following is a sample response that scored high on the rubric:


```html Encoding is the process of transforming information into a form that can be stored in memory. One type of encoding that was used by participants in this experiment is semantic encoding, which is encoding based on meaning. Semantic encoding involves relating new information to existing knowledge or making connections between different pieces of information. For example, participants might have encoded the words on the list by thinking about their definitions, synonyms, antonyms, or categories.


Retrieval is the process of accessing information from memory. One type of retrieval that was used by participants in this experiment is recall, which is retrieving information without cues. Recall involves retrieving information from long-term memory and bringing it into working memory. For example, participants had to recall as many words as they could from the list without any hints or prompts.


Point Description --- --- 8 The student explains how the factor could have enhanced the memory performance of participants in Group 1. For example, if the factor is the Mozart effect, the student could explain that listening to classical music stimulates brain activity and enhances spatial reasoning, which could help participants encode and retrieve the words on the list. 9 The student identifies and explains one factor that could have impaired the memory performance of participants in Group 2, such as interference theory, divided attention, or retroactive interference. 10 The student explains how the factor could have impaired the memory performance of participants in Group 2. For example, if the factor is interference theory, the student could explain that listening to rock music while studying creates interference, which is a loss of information due to similar or competing information. Interference could prevent participants from encoding or retrieving the words on the list effectively. 11 The student identifies and explains one way that participants in Group 3 could have improved their memory performance using a mnemonic device, such as chunking, acronyms, or imagery. 12 The student explains how the mnemonic device could have improved the memory performance of participants in Group 3. For example, if the mnemonic device is chunking, the student could explain that chunking is a strategy that involves grouping information into meaningful units, which reduces the load on working memory and increases the capacity of long-term memory. Chunking could help participants remember more words on the list by organizing them into smaller and easier chunks. ```html One factor that could have enhanced the memory performance of participants in Group 1 is state-dependent memory, which is the idea that memory is better when the encoding and retrieval states match. State-dependent memory involves encoding information in a specific physical or mental state and retrieving it more easily when in the same state. For example, participants who listened to classical music while studying might have encoded the words on the list in a calm and relaxed state, and they might have recalled them better if they were also calm and relaxed during the recall test.


One factor that could have impaired the memory performance of participants in Group 2 is divided attention, which is the idea that multitasking reduces memory performance. Divided attention involves splitting one's attention between two or more tasks or stimuli, which reduces the amount of attention and resources devoted to each task or stimulus. For example, participants who listened to rock music while studying might have divided their attention between the words on the list and the music, which could have reduced their ability to encode a


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